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U.S. teen birth rate, abortions increase

NEW YORK, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- In 2006, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate rose 3 percent from 2005 -- about 7 percent of all teen girls became pregnant, researchers found.

A report by the Guttmacher Institute in New York said for the first time in a decade, the U.S. teen birth rate in 2006 rose 4 percent from 2005, while the abortion rate increased by 1 percent from the previous year.

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"After more than a decade of progress, this reversal is deeply troubling," Heather Boonstra, a senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute said in a statement.

"It coincides with an increase in rigid abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which received major funding boosts under the Bush administration. A strong body of research shows that these programs do not work. Fortunately, the heyday of this failed experiment has come to an end with the enactment of a new teen pregnancy prevention initiative that ensures that programs will be age-appropriate, medically accurate and, most importantly, based on research demonstrating their effectiveness."

The teen pregnancy rate declined 41 percent between its peak, in 1990 to 2005. Teen births dropped 35 percent between 1991-2005, while teen abortion declined 56 percent between its peak, in 1988. But all three trends reversed in 2006.

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The drop in teen pregnancies in the 1990s was the result of more and better use of contraceptives among sexually active teens. However, this decline started to stall with abstinence and prohibition of discussing the benefits of contraception, Boonstra said.

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